2010 March 15

The old rule about ‘if it looks too good to be true, it probably is’ definitely applies in tough economic times, but many people are being caught out by counterfeit goods, especially clothing.

Until recently, counterfeiting wasn’t as prevalent in casual clothing as in high-end designer and fashion garments, but the global recession means that almost every brand and clothing line is being targeted by unscrupulous cheats, many of whom chose to sell their knock-off clothing online.

You can protect yourself against fake clothing vendors by following a few simple rules:

1.    Buying clothing online can be a fantastic way to save money – but make sure you buy through a reputable online retailer. Counterfeiters choose to sell this way because it allows them to stay anonymous and the set-up costs of business online are low, so look for a company with a long history in retail and a good range of the kind of clothing you want to buy. While some retailers specialise in a single brand – especially of more expensive garments such as high quality jackets, shoes and trainers – and are perfectly genuine, an online store selling only one brand can also be a sign that a counterfeiter is using that website to offload fake goods, so be doubly careful.
2.    Look at the details – detailing can often separate real goods from fake ones. On brand T-shirts, for example, look at what the company in question describes as its ‘signature’ or ‘classic’ styling, such as where brand labels are located, stitching styles and cut. Often, even online, you can see where a picture of the goods doesn’t match up to the company’s signature style, such as a garment looking skinny when the cut is supposed to relaxed or roomy, or a label being slightly different in colour, size or shape. Counterfeiters can produce garments that are almost identical to the real thing, but most are just trying to sell similar looking garments as quickly as possible and don’t pay as much attention to detail so you can catch them out by examining photographs carefully.
3.    Ask for references – all good online shops have references and testimonials, but counterfeiters have become good at faking those too! Try googling the company and seeing what comes up: disappointed buyers often vent their fury on consumer sites or in online forums, while satisfied customers of online shops will also tend to enthuse about the good quality of their clothing, the excellence of the service and the speedy delivery. Use these online clues to help you decide where it’s safe to buy.



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